Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Little Trick To Increase Self-Esteem & Identity (Affirmations!)

What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates his fate.  ~Henry David Thoreau

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

I was a very awkward middle schooler. Although I am no longer that awkward middle school girl, I inwardly cringe when I look at pictures or remember those 3 years of my life. Once we make it out of the "awkward years", we start to figure life out a little bit. However, due to experiences from that time period, or from other experiences (abuse, negative messages from friends or family, illness, etc...) in life, we often walk away feeling damaged.

I tell my clients we have this inner soundtrack to our lives, and if we really stopped and thought about it, we'd realize how many negative words and lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis. If you had a friend that said 20 or 30 negative things to you every day, would you allow them to stay in your life? Yet we can't get away from ourselves, so we continue to drag ourselves down day after day. Not only can we feel bad about ourselves, but we make life far more difficult for ourselves then it needs to be.

There is a simple little trick I have many clients do (yes-I have done this for myself in the past as well) to help them increase their self esteem or to help them "figure out who they are." The idea of this is that the more you say something to yourself, the more you will feel it, and the more you will behave as if that statement is true. What we say to ourselves is tied very tightly to our mood and to our behaviors. To change our feelings and behaviors, we begin by changing our thoughts (self-talk).

I start by having people write a list of the negative things they say on a frequent basis to themself. An example:

Once this is done, I have people write a list statements that are the opposite of the negative list, or other positive affirmations. An example:
Notice that the positive affirmations are always written in present tense, and always start with "I am ____". Read these to yourself a few times a day while looking at yourself in the mirror.

Even if you don't have low self-esteem, and you feel like you know who you are as a person, this little technique can be quite healthy and uplifting. Why not try it out this week? (This could even count as one of your little 5 minute activities-see here for idea for using time wisely)

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